Conor McGregor & Michael Chandler Set to Finally Fight at UFC 303

April 15, 2024
1 month

Conor McGregor is forever etched into UFC history as one of the names who helped drive the company to new heights. But one thing that sets McGregor apart from other legendary fighters is how inactive he became once he reached the top. McGregor is set to return following a nearly three-year absence in June for UFC 303 at T-Mobile Arena.

But it’s fair to wonder how much McGregor’s heart is really into fighting anymore. McGregor has his hands into so many other businesses, even acting alongside Jake Gyllenhaal in “Road House,” he hardly seems to be the fighter who set the world on fire by becoming the first simultaneous two-division champion in UFC history.

While MMAfighting latest news shows that McGregor’s return is highly anticipated, it’s hard to imagine what will happen in this fight. But the UFC does have a perfect dance partner for McGregor. Michael Chandler is a former Bellator champion who has an explosive style.

McGregor has only fought in the octagon four times since 2016. His return, and how he performs, will be an interesting story no matter how it goes. McGregor’s personality and fighting style is still among the most popular in the sport.

Injury Sidelined McGregor

Part of what made McGregor’s road back to the octagon so difficult is what happened during his last fight. During his third fight with Dustin Poirier, McGregor suffered a broken tibia in the first round. He was unable to continue and lost via TKO.

But despite suffering that injury, McGregor has maintained his message that he was always destined to return to the octagon.

Chandler Gets Bored Waiting

Chandler, 38, being forced to sit on the sidelines is a major disappointment from the many delays in getting McGregor to agree to a fight date. Both men were on opposite sides against each other on a season of The Ultimate Fighter 31 in 2023.

While Chandler didn’t sign with the UFC until later in his career, his resume since joining the world’s most successful promotion has been filled with difficult fights. Chandler, who had a long run in Bellator, where he had two runs with the lightweight belt, is 2-3 since entering the UFC.

However, other than Chandler’s debut win over Dan Hooker at UFC 257, his other four opponents in the UFC have held the lightweight championship or were interim champions. Chandler had a knockout win over Tony Ferguson.

Chandler lost his title challenge with Charles Oliveira at UFC 262 to former interim champions Justin Gaethje and Dustin Poirier. 

McGregor’s Striking Has Changed

The fight with Floyd Mayweather may have ruined McGregor’s MMA sensibilities. McGregor’s first long absence from MMA came when he challenged the all-time boxing great. It is the only professional boxing match that McGregor ever had.

McGregor had a hard time touching Mayweather, one of the greatest defensive boxers ever. When McGregor returned to MMA, nothing seemed to be the same. The best MMA news sites show that McGregor returned against Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229; the Russian star dominated him.

Following a post-fight melee in the octagon, the Nevada State Athletic Commission suspended both McGregor and Nurmagomedov. When McGregor returned again and had his series of matches with Poirier, he didn’t look like the same fighter.

McGregor fought out of a more boxing-type stance instead of his wider stance as early in his career. McGregor also didn’t display the same range of weapons and preferred to box.

Chandler is Explosive

One thing you can count on with Chandler is that he will always give it his best effort. What is hard to gauge with Chandler is how long he can last on his feet. Chandler’s chin seems less durable after a long career in the sport.

While Chandler was an All-American wrestler with the University of Missouri, he doesn’t want to engage in a grappling affair. Anyone looking at MMA news sites shows Chandler likes emptying the tank in the first five minutes. Chandler will throw big powerful strikes that burn out his energy.

While this strategy can backfire, Chandler’s power is remarkable. It is unlikely that McGregor will try to wrestle Chandler. Chandler would prefer to keep this fight on the feet, and that should be just fine with McGregor.

There is Concern About McGregor’s Well-Being

McGregor isn’t known for his cool head. Over the years, he had been involved in many scuffles outside the octagon. He changed a lot of fighters’ careers by throwing a dolly at a bus window that shattered glass and caused injuries.

But the recent concerns have stemmed from an interview he gave during the promotional tour for Road House. Many speculated from how McGregor looked that he may be having some issues outside the octagon and wasn’t sure how hard he was training for this event. It’s difficult to guess at this point in his life why McGregor still wants to fight.

While the UFC may be willing to push him to the top of the rankings with a win or two, he hasn’t displayed that ability or drive in a long time. Chandler is an opponent who has been more active and involved in bouts with tougher competition in recent years.

UFC 303 Has a Lot to Live Up to

The UFC just had one of its greatest events ever. UFC 300 featured several classic fights that were a high point for the sport. Only a little else has been planned so far for UFC 303.

As of now, there are two other fights that are known for UFC 303. There will be a fight between Michelle Waterson-Gomez and Gillian Robertson. The fight between Waterson-Gomez and Robertson was originally scheduled for 302, but was rescheduled due to an injury.

There will also be a flyweight bout between Cody Durden and Rei Tsuruya. 

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By Dean McHugh.